Category Archives: News

Subjects of neoliberalism

What is the core of neoliberal ideology? Firstly, that you are alone, that you are an individual competing with everybody else. Secondly, that the real distinction among human beings is between winners and losers, right? There’s no more stable class identity, no more stable political identity – the real divide is between neoliberalism’s winners and losers.

There is more to this.

Axé.

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“Grotesque incompetence,” “Threatening,” “Malevolent,” “Evil,” “Ill will”

Those were some words and phrases the Emeritus Professor used tonight in response to my description of some activities of the upper administration.

Axé.

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Le voyage

It has taken some planning but I have the plane ticket, which cost a total of one hundred twenty-seven dollars.

Nights 1-7 will be in Barcelona and I must reserve that room in Born. $55×7, or $385.
Nights 8-11 will be in Sitges and I must reserve my room. $50×4, or $200.
On Day 12 I leave Sitges very early and take a train from Barcelona to Bourgogne. I must buy the Barcelona-Lyon ticket and also the ticket for the post-Lyon train. 49 and then 22 Euros.
Nights 12-19 (or 12-20) will be in Bourgogne. I will have to remember to buy the ticket on to Paris, but this is not urgent.
Nights 19/20 to 21 will be in Paris and I must find a place to stay.
On Day 22 I leave Paris very early to come to Maringouin. I should probably stay near the Gare du Nord for this reason, so I can catch the first RER in. That means the Montmartre/Gare du Nord zone basically, since it is the only place you can get public transportation to de Gaulle so early.

Another thought is to come into Roissy straight from Bourgogne on the TGV the evening before, stay in a Novotel and not try to do anything in Paris. However, the SNCF site keeps telling me that the TGV station at Roissy is out of service … so strange … and this suggests Paris beckons. I can stay here, right near the Gare du Nord, if I can make that pesky Air BnB site work. This will cost about $150 altogether.

So we have $735 on lodging and about 100 Euros on trains — Barcelona to Paris, but with the Barcelona-Lyon trajet bought in Spain for 49 Euros. This means I am spending just over $1000 on flight, trains and lodging for three weeks in Europe. And I don’t eat expensive food, so this is a downright economical vacation. You must congratulate me, in part because it is a straight-up vacation.

Axé.

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More from Miller

  • Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  • When you can’t create you can work.
  • Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

Those are our three points du jour, although my favorites are still “Work on one thing at a time until finished” and “Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.” (I have a great deal to say about turning oneself into a creative person again, or a person with subjectivity and agency again. You must cultivate yourself and this is what people do not understand; even sacrificers and penitents cultivated themselves.)

I want research time and Fulbrights. It is unrealistic to expect oneself to work here because of the atmosphere, or elsewhere because one’s things are here. How to manage these problems. I might need a New Orleans sublet. (I must stay in touch with Hunter.)

I want to understand how I self destructed for once and for all, and stop wondering. I know and knew exactly what I wanted to do. How to walk through those glass doors and ceilings now?

Axé.

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Henry Miller was right

Miller works the way one did before having to listen to the harangues of professors who read Boice. He lived at Big Sur at one point–perhaps the mystical awareness came to him there. Here are three of his points, with my comments:

  • Work on one thing at a time until finished. [Even when others demand you do something else, and even when you are efficiently accomplishing many things.]
  • Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’ [This second point is what is meant by the dictum against perfectionism — allow things to be finished when they are finished. It does not mean you should not finish things or not allow yourself to produce things that satisfy you.]
  • Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. [That is SO different from the idea of setting a timer and your jaw that is recommended now, but it is what a real writer does.]

I am fortunate to have known these things early on. Really fortunate. I should sit in this knowledge more. Everything is fine when I have, or take more research and writing time, and more recreational time, and do not listen to those who say one does not know what one is doing and is only serious if committed to grim drudgery, or sacrifice and penitence without spirit.

*

I have been feeling well the past few days and it is because some things have come together. The situation was not created by me entirely, or by me alone, or perhaps we could say it was not created by me. What I have to say about these things is, very briefly, about the “disease model” of “depression” (which I don’t think I have, I think I have oppression, which may be another thing).

Disease model: it is useful insofar as it insists that the phenomenon is real. It fascinates me how many people think it is not. They really do think everything is a question of attitude, or in some cases correct Protestant-style morals. But it is destructive when people want to use it as an excuse to check out, or want you to. I find that a slight reduction in oppression goes a long way, but I also find that so many people feel they are entitled to so much that if you gave them the chance to say a reduction in oppression would help, they would decide they should just wait for more things to be served to them on silver platters.

In any case, though, I feel different lately. I feel as I did before psychotherapy and academic jobs, before I was told I was the wrong person, before I was told my accomplishments were not real and my pleasures not legitimate, and before I began to feel I had better either flee or hide if these were the things I was to believe in my current universe. The fact that I feel different is proof that depression, or oppression, are real things and really impair you. I do not believe they are biological matters and I am not at all convinced that you can recover just by taking the semester off.

Axé.

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“The ‘grain’ is the voice in the body as it sings”

Roland Barthes in Image–Music–Text, here. I was reminded of it because of a piece on Stuart Hall by Homi Bhabha in Critical Inquiry, and I miss reading Critical Inquiry and some other things.

The grain is the voice in the body as it sings, and this is one more road leading to or from Vallejo. Bhabha talks about semiotics, locus of enunciation, intersubjectivity and language.

(Once again I want to say I do not like this behaviorist psychotherapy, that is all about setting little goals, containing yourself, and being good … and where the assumption is that without such containment, you will be incredibly small minded and self serving. I do not know that that is what this psychotherapist intends to do, but when I arrive in late afternoon he is tired and does not need to be sitting any longer, he needs to be stretching, there is pain in his every sinew, and he says formulaic things. He was not like this before and I had been thinking he was getting older but now I wonder: perhaps he is just impatient, tired of me.)

Transference. I do amateur psychoanalysis on myself on the blog because I do not seem to get, or do not think I can get it elsewhere. I claim psychotherapy is about containing oneself, saying the things one is allowed to say so that one can appear deserving of some glimmerings of useful insight or care. Is that, then, what I actually think about people and life? I am myself considered a good and inspiring advisor because I tell people to take what they need and do what they will (and I trust them to be ethical about this). I say it to everyone as a matter of course, but I do not say it to myself, and I probably mistrust myself.

Evidence suggests I am a courageous person.

Axé.

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Even more for Henry Miller: the unsafe space

  • Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  • Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  • Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  • Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  • When you can’t create you can work.
  • Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  • Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  • Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  • Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day.Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  • Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  • Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

MORNINGS:
If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS:

Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS:

See friends. Read in cafés.

Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.

Paint if empty or tired.

Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

One final note: people always said that the reason I wanted a research job was arrogance, and the reason I would take a research job outside academia over a teaching job within it was fickleness and lack of dedication. But those are not the reasons. The reasons have to do with taste and interests, but also with the fact that cliquish teaching institutions are unsafe spaces for me particularly–tight little family-type atmospheres are just hard for me to navigate.

I am depressed, says a psychologist, and if I behaved and thought differently, I would “manage” better. I am not depressed, says a doctor who knows me in real life and sees me in action — I merely have anxiety, panic, and claustrophobia as rational reactions to a real situation. It is possible to have these afflictions without being depressed, she says. “We must turn from the inappropriate use of the disease model of emotional distress and understand that individuals’ psychological pain arises within social systems as well as within their own brains,” someone said.

Axé.

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